Black Friday: what are the regulations to follow?

Check out this guide to make sure you’re in order ahead of Black Friday!
Black Friday (or “Vendredi noir” in French – as you’ll see later, it’s mandatory to translate this phrase) is coming soon. It takes place at the end of the year on Friday November 25, 2022.

This exceptional commercial holiday from the United States is exploding in France since 2010 . Closely followed by Cyber Monday, which gives us BFCM (for Black Friday-Cyber Monday), and even Cyber Week for some retailers, marketplaces and e-tailers, Black Friday is - like the summer and winter sales in France - a crucial period for all e-tailers. And like the sales, there are regulations to comply with under penalty of sanctions.

It is better to respect these few laws to avoid being punished and not being able to take advantage of what the 42 million buyers likely to be online at that time represent in potential purchasing value. Because between 2020 and 2021, as the FEVAD (French Federation of E-Commerce and Distance Sellers) points out, Black Friday attracted an increasing number of e-consumers, with a rise of nearly 16%.

Why should you comply with the various French trade regulations?

  • To avoid financial penalties;
  • And also meet the requirements of search engines;

There is a new European directive called “Omnibus” which came into force on May 28 2022. It fixes the prices before promotions in order to avoid misleading practices.

What rates should you apply? How should you display them? And how should you communicate during Black Friday?

What prices should you apply and how should you display them? What wording should you use during Black Friday?
What prices should you apply and how should you display them? What wording should you use during Black Friday?

1- Displaying products on your e-commerce site

Availability claim

It is forbidden to include a product that is not available in your Black Friday product list. Because of its limited time frame, Black Friday can lead to a quick or hasty purchasing decision. Therefore, it is prohibited to falsely declare that a product or service will only be available for a very limited period of time in order to obtain an immediate decision.

Price display

With the “Omnibus” law that came into effect on May 28 2022, the display of promotional prices is better regulated during the Black Friday period. Prices must be displayed in relation to the base price (the real one!), which must also be clearly displayed. As for the regulation of pricing, Black Friday is like other sales; it is increasingly legislated. You can, of course, cross out the original price, but you must display it so that the consumer can see the temporary price drop.

E-tailers: you are free to display the relevant figures as you choose, according to your marketing strategy.

You can display the price reduction on your website as an absolute value, i.e. “-€30”, or as a percentage, i.e. as “-20%”.

2- Rates and promotions: how should you apply them?

Selling at a loss and inflating base prices are forbidden

Contrary to other sales periods, during which selling items at a loss is authorized, albeit with some rules to abide by (type of product, inventory volume, etc.). It is forbidden to sell at a loss. An increase in the base price of a product sold out before the Black Friday period is considered as misleading. So, the final price increases may be logged 30 days or more before the big day.

Therefore, online retailers must also use the lowest sales price applied in the previous 30 days as the base price for a promotion.

Black Friday or Black Weekend?

In the event you decide to extend the party for your e-consumers with a Black Weekend: obviously, all the rules mentioned above and below are still in place. Therefore, it is mandatory to specify it on your platforms. You must specify the duration, the translations, and the price drop compared to the base price.

3- Communication rules and consumer rights

Black Friday terms to use and regulations

In terms of wording, the DGCCRF (French Competition Council) has been very clear. Black Friday must not be assimilated into the more generic “sales” term, not on your website nor in your online advertising: nowhere. Using this misleading term puts you at risk of a fine of €15,000 for individuals, and up to €75,000 for legal entities.

Knowing that sales allow sales at a loss, to induce your e-buyers that Black Friday are sales is misleading and punished by the law of the commercial code.

As Black Friday is an American English term, it falls within the framework of the Toubon Law, which states that “the language of the Republic is French.” Therefore, the translation of Black Friday by “Vendredi noir” must be systematically displayed on:

  • Your site,
  • Your product pages,
  • Your written, oral or audiovisual advertisements,
  • But also in commercial documents (instructions for use),
  • And administrative and financial documents (invoices, receipts, contracts, etc.)

Sticking with the wording, it is forbidden to use marketing claims related to price comparisons or benefits that only give the impression – surely wrongly – of a discount. For example, “best price” or “lowest price”.

What are consumers' rights during Black Friday?

For the e-buyer, the right of cancellation after receipt of the product without having to provide justification cannot be less than the legal period of 14 days: so, do not hesitate to (re) specify this in your T&Cs (and even more clearly on your site).

The items you include in your promotion must benefit from the same guarantees in terms of non-apparent manufacturing defects, defects of conformity, or after-sales service as any other item. Online buyers have the same rights as during the rest of the year, and during the sales periods (source: DGCCRF). E-tailers: visit the e-commerce seller's guide published by the DGCCRF for all additional legal information.

E-tailers therefore have no right to display banners such as "No returns or exchanges" or "You have 7 days to try it without charge". In addition, as regards hidden defects, the statute of limitations for initiating a procedure is two years after the purchase. The consumer right is intact here, too. Don't hesitate to communicate this in your T&Cs, or at least to make it easily accessible on your e-commerce site, like in the footer.

- Published
January 23, 2023
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